Miss Part 1? Find it here.
I don’t want to say which book I picked up specifically, because I don’t want anyone else to start along the same path I did – I will tell you that it was during the low-carb craze; essentially, I became terrified of bread, grains, and fruits. I followed the diet to a “T”, and of course, lost weight immediately – what I had put on after I returned home from school was now gone. The diet recommended I started bringing carbs back into the diet, but my theory was – if I had lost so much weight this way, why would I stop? Although I was starting to experience horrible stomach issues, crazy fatigue, dizziness…I just ignored it. I told myself it was worth it if it meant I would actually be skinny.
Around this time my mother and I planned a trip to Mexico that fall. Spending a week in my bathing suit – just another reason to stay on the diet, right? I became very good at telling myself, “No.” Can’t have this, it has fruit, can’t have that bread, can’t have anything remotely resembling sugar. I went out for ice cream once that summer…and became so terrified and worried about gaining weight that I vowed not to do it again. I was working overnight shifts in a factory that summer, so I was preparing all my own meals and eating by myself – which made it easier to get away with.
When my mom and I went away to Mexico – I was thinner than I had ever been in my entire life. My mother was worried about me, but I was elated – it was what I had worked for. I let loose a little bit during vacation – I didn’t work out once (over the summer I had worked out in some form every day) and started eating dessert again. It was easily one of the best weeks of my life. Many of the vendors and resort staff commented on how skinny I was – but definitely said it in the most positive way possible.
When I returned home, so did my fear of gaining weight. I had indulged on vacation, and was terrified it was going to catch up to me and I was going to wake up one morning right where I was in high school. I became even more restrictive with what I was eating. I was back on a regular schedule and eating with my family again at this point, so I began dictating what dinner would be each night – something that fell into my safe category. If my parents wanted something I deemed “unsafe”, I would just alter it until I decided it was acceptable to eat. Anything that was happening to me physically wouldn’t stop me. I even had a horrible fainting spell where I collapsed and almost banged my head on a wall – I still wouldn’t stop. At this point, I felt as if I couldn’t.
Over that fall and winter, my weight continued to plummet. I was in a new relationship by this point, and my new boyfriend was telling me I was anorexic – I refused to believe it. I insisted I just ate really healthy and exercised a lot. My weight fell into double digits – so dangerous for my 5’7 frame. At that point I was starting to entertain the idea that maybe something was wrong – but I refused to accept it. My social life dwindled down and my concentration in school began to wane – all I could think about was food. When I could eat, what I couldn’t eat, daydreaming about things I wanted to eat but “couldn’t”, what I could make for friends or family but wouldn’t allow myself to touch – my life revolved around my disorder. The ED promised me that if I followed the rules and continued to lose weight, I would get everything I wanted. I just needed to be skinny.
That winter, I finally confided in my mother about the scary physical effects I was seeing. My hair was thinning and falling out in chunks, I was cold 24/7, my skin was flaking, and I was growing a peach fuzz on my back and arms (lanugo – the body’s last resort to stay warm in cases of malnutrition). My mom had been seeing my weight drop, and was incredibly alarmed at this point -she immediately made an appointment with my doctor.
At my doctor’s appointment, she weighed me and talked to me about what I was eating. She never mentioned the word “anorexia” and neither did I – she did ask me about laxatives, which I never touched (and never did). I left feeling like I didn’t accomplish much, but I could at least acknowledge that I had a problem.
Over Christmas, my weight continued to drop. I looked skeletal – I couldn’t hide from it anymore. I had been seeing myself get smaller and smaller, but I could never really admit that it was happening to me. I kept convincing myself that what I was seeing in the mirror wasn’t me – it was a completely different being. I knew I had a problem, but I couldn’t admit that it was THAT BAD.
(I don’t have any pictures of myself from this era. I completely shunned mirrors and photos – anything that made it obvious as to how sick I was).
Sometime late that winter, I had a bit of a break. My weight loss had stalled for a while – I had stayed at the same for about a month. I knew I either had to step up my weight loss efforts and cut my already minuscule diet down even more, or admit I had a problem that needed to be fixed. By some miracle, I chose option B – the first time the phrase “I have anorexia” left my mouth, I had an absolute breakdown – I sobbed for hours.
At my doctor’s advice, I went to see a nutritionist and started on a meal plan. The meal plan itself was terrifying – 3 meals, 3 large snacks a day. It was more food than I had ever eaten before. But I was determined – I wanted to beat this disease.
I followed the plan until I started working that summer – I still followed the basic idea, but changed some things around due to my schedule. Then, I fell off the bandwagon almost completely. I was still eating more, but not gaining as fast as I should have. I gained enough over the summer that I didn’t look so damn skeletal – but the gain had stalled. I was still underweight and was stuck, both physically and mentally. Physically, I wasn’t willing to eat more, and mentally, I had hit a block – I had gained a certain amount of weight but was afraid to gain more. After talking to yet a different boyfriend (yes, I dated around a lot – I’m sure something can be said for that) and my family, I decided that the next step was professional help.
Look for Part 3 tomorrow!